March 23 is National Fragrance Day – an opportunity to celebrate, delight, sniff and savor the many sweet aromas that life has to offer.
The day was started by the Fragrance Foundation in the UK to expand the appreciation, enjoyment, use and sale of fragrances amongst all people.
As one of the 5 ways we process the world around us, the sense of smell is closely linked to memory. Fresh bread, coffee, spring flowers, smoke – anything olfactory can conjure up a specific experience from the past, a place, time or moment. Even a mélange of smells can transport us instantly back to a particular city or location that held deep meaning and association. Many say Paris smells like burnt rubber, wafting up from the subterranean labyrinth of the Metro. In his ‘Remembrance of all Things Past’, Marcel Proust wrote that a bite of a madeleine vividly recalled childhood memories of his aunt giving him the very same cake before going to mass on a Sunday.
Not only linked to memory, the sense of smell is highly emotive. Can you truly bottle passion and desire? What about success? Vague as the concept may be, the perfume industry is built on this connection and fragrance can have a profound effect on us, positive or negative.
Within our boutiques and curated shops, one can find an abundance of fine fragrances. Perfume, incense, hair aroma and other olfactory sundries, made to take you on a personal journey of memory and emotion. Today, you are invited to choose your own adventure and let your nose lead the way.
Recently rebranded and now in a new location, Lynn Steven carries incense from Province Apothecary (Lavender, cedar, black spruce, fir balsam) and long burning soy candles from The Vancouver Candle Co. with blends like The Atlantic: infused with notes of calming lavender fields, wispy grasses, and coastal breezes of the Atlantic.
The Old Faithful Shop is awash with sweet smelling supplies. Incense, aromatherapy eye pillows, oil diffusers, interior sprays, and some very unique cologne from D.S. and Durga. Take their Burning Barbershop as an example: A fire broke out in the Curling Bros. barbershop in Westlake, N.Y. in 1891. All the shaving tonics with their spearmint, lime, vanilla & lavender burned. A charred bottle was found half-full. It smelled like this.
Mr. Jonathan Litchfield, proprietor of Litchfield, is a self-described aficionado of fragrance and the effects it has on us. His shop sells a wide array of olfactory items – porcelain diffusers, essential oils, storied soy candles from Lola James Harper, Litchfield branded scented candles, parfum and incense. One of our favorites from LOLA JAMES HARPER – NO 22 THE LITCHFIELD IN GASTOWN – This scent reflects the grounding balance of life on the Pacific West Coast of Canada. The even rhythms of nature and the sweet forest air are gentle and calm.
It’s all parfum at Neighbour. Blends from Comme De Garçons, Meo Fusciuni and Tom Daxon. Take note of MEO FUSCIUNI – Shukran Eau de Toilette –the second perfume in the travel notes series, and another memory of a faraway place. This time, to Morocco, and the ritual of a cup of mint tea in the warm afternoon light. Notes of mint, lemongrass and tobacco.
Nouvelle Nouvelle has an entire section dedicated to smell where their apothecary holds travel perfume rollers, perfume oil, incense pyres, eau de parfum and scented candles. We love: the perfume rollers from Japan – rrefillable perfume roller so you can take your favourite scent with you. The outer case is metal and the roller is plastic. Comes with a funnel for easy filling. Available in gold, pale pink, sky blue, and black.
Roden Gray carries Healey Parfums Created by English perfumer and designer James Heeley, Heeley Parfums are made in France using only the highest quality components. The blend – Saint Celment’s is a traditional eau de cologne translated into a chic, contemporary, fresh, English eau de parfum inspired by the rhyme Oranges and Lemons with top notes of orange, lemon, mandarin, bergamot.
Haven is, well….a haven of fine scents. With quite possibly the largest selection of aromas in the neighbourhood, the shop stocks everything from fragrance fabric liquid, fragrance room tags, fragrance tablets, comme de garcons parfums, reed diffusers, room sprays, candles and car tags.
Nettle’s Tale sells a homely collection of West Coast woodsy inspired incense sticks and burners. A whole mini forest of red cedar, balsam fir, pine to slowly burn in brass holders made to look like owls, buffalos or log cabins.
At Aesop you’ll find a few deeply sensual blends of eau de parfum – try Hwyl – a stirring fragrance, reminiscent of a Japanese forest. Smoky notes descend into subtle spice and dark green earthy accords.
Aveda has created an aromatic product for the hair called Pure-Fume Hair Mist. The marassona aroma is made with certified organic neroli, lemon and ylang ylang and other pure flower and plant essences.
The Block carries a few scented items from Wendy Nicol – both the Potion No.1 candle and eau de parfum. Infused with notes of eucalyptus, vetiver, and sandalwood. Developed with air purifying, hypotensive, and antioxidant properties, this fragrance is inspired by the scent of fresh-cut leather and herbal oils.
Sacred smudge sticks can be found at The Good Spirit. Each stick carries different healing properties with each aligned to specific star signs:
White Sage/Purifying: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius.
Yerba Santa/ Heart Balancing: Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio.
Juniper/Awakening: Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo.
Cedar/Grounding: Gemini, Aquarius, Libra.
L’atelier Home stocks soy candles and diffusers from Great White North, soy candles from The Vancouver Candle Co. and two-wick soy/coconut candles from Voluspa.